The North Coast Veterans Administration Hospital is a former veterans administration facility in Ohio. It was in operation from 1961 to 2011.


History

The first patient admitted to the Veterans Administration’s (VA) Broadview Heights Hospital in 1940. 3 The facility is later converted from a general medical and surgical hospital to one focused on tuberculosis treatment.

In June 1946, the VA acquired the Crile Hospital in Parma Heights, becoming a 1,000-bed general medical and surgical facility. 3 4 It had been built as a temporary facility in 1943 to treat wounded soldiers of World War II. 3 Crile was initially affiliated with University Hospitals and later the medical school at Western Reserve University, and offered specialized services in ophthalmology, a rehabilitative programs for paraplegics and reconstructive hand surgery. 4

Broadview Heights VA Hospital in June 1941. Photographed by Walter Kneal.

The VA acquired a 20-acre site on East Boulevard near Wade Park to build a new 500-bed general hospital in 1948. 4 The plan was shelved over funding concerns but was finally approved in 1960 by the House Appropriations Committee. The 786 bed Wade Park VA Hospital 3 opened in June 1964. 4 It prompted the closure of the Crile VA Hospital.

In 1956, construction began on the 999-bed, $23 million North Coast VA Hospital near Cleveland for treatment of neuropsychiatric patients. 3 4 It opened in 1961 and boasted a swimming pool, gymnasium and bowling alley and employed 950 workers. 4

The North Coast hospital adopted the “unit care” concept and was organized into independent 300-bed units. 4 Early on, North Coast was a heralded as a pioneer in the treatment of veterans. It introduced a program to rehabilitate alcoholics in 1969, started a drug abuse center in 1971 and began a treatment program for compulsive gamblers shortly after. All three ills were common with returning veterans due to combat stress. It cumulated with the addition of a program to treat post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans of the Vietnam War in 1984. Additionally, North Coast became the first to establish a domicile for homeless veterans. 3

The North Coast VA Hospital assumed the administrative duties of the Broadview Heights Hospital before it closed due to declining patient numbers in 1965. 4

After operating as separate facilities, each with its own budget and director, the North Coast and Wade Park hospitals merged in 1971. All surgical cases from North Coast and those patients with neurological disorders transferred to Wade Park. 4

In 1981, an investigation concluded that led to the arrest of several employees for stealing drugs from the hospital for resale on the street. 3 In 1986, a former patient returned to the hospital and fatally shot two unarmed police officers. That led hospital guards to be fully trained and armed.

A 1988 congressional report noted that North Coast had to shut down more than a third of its patient beds due to a shortage of nurses, doctors and funds. 3

Consolidation

In 2004, the decision was made to consolidate all patient care at the Wade Park campus. 3 To handle the patients from North Coast and an annual patient load that had more than doubled in the past decade from 39,000 to 100,000, it was decided to renovate and expand Wade Park’s campus at a cost of $526 million. Included was the construction of a $102 million, 222-bed patient tower, a seven-story office building, a 122-bed homeless domicile and a parking garage.

The new Wade Park facilities were designed to include private and semi-private rooms, each with their own bathroom, an upgrade from four patient bedrooms with one or two bathrooms for an entire ward at North Coast. 3

The elimination of duplication of services between North Coast and Wade Park was expected to save the VA $23 million per year. 3

On May 16, 2011, the refreshed and expanded Wade Park VA Hospital was officially dedicated. 3 The North Coast facility was decommissioned on September 5, the 50th anniversary of its opening day. More than 200 residents and most of the 1,350 workers were transferred from North Coast to Wade Park.

A new VA outpatient clinic, to replace the one at North Coast, opened in Parma in January 2012. 3

Redevelopment

In June 2017, the Brecksville city council approved a lease agreement that transferred the rights, duties and obligations of the VA hospital from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to the city. 2 The city desired to transform the derelict property into a mixed-use development.

The agreement approved was between the city and Veterans Development LLC, a real-estate developer that began leasing the hospital property from the VA in 2009. 2 The VA had chosen the company to develop and manage the consolidation of the VA’s North Coast and Wade Park hospitals. The city is now in the process of presenting its plans on redevelopment to the VA. The VA will then decide on whether to transfer the title to the city.


Buildings

Building 1 (Administration Building)

Building 1 housed the anticoagulation, podiatry, eye and dental clinics, human resource and administration offices and a VA credit union. 1

Building 2 (Outpatient Clinic Building)

Building 2 was home to outpatient clinic functions and included radiology, X-ray and MRI departments, a pharmacy, and speciality clinics including cardiology, dermatology, neurology and nutrition. It was originally known as the Treatment Building.

Building 4 (Domiciliary)

Building 4 housed homeless veterans.

Building 5 (Outpatient Mental Health Building)

Building 5 regarded outpatient mental health services and included psychology, recreational and occupational therapy services. 1

Building 6

Building 6 served as a nursing home. 1

Building 7

Building 7 served as a nursing home. 1

Building 22

Building 22 housed a swimming pool and gymnasium. 1

Building 23, 24 and 87

Building 23 featured a patient cafeteria and dining hall while the adjoining Building 24 featured a barber shop, six lane bowling alley, canteen, library, recreation room, retail shop and theater. 1 Building 87 functioned as a warehouse.

Buildings 44, 45, 46, 40, 70, 71 and 74

Buildings 44 and 45 were dedicated to maintenance of the hospital complex while Building 70 was the coal-fired power plant.

Other

Sources